Call it the Dream Act or the REAL Hope Act, the effect is the same. Making undocumented students eligible for state financial aid is a good investment. Letting young people share in the American dream of self-improvement through education and effort benefits everyone. These are students who, though undocumented, have grown up among us, were often educated in our schools and hope to attend our institutions of higher learning, if they can afford it. This will help in significant and tangible ways.
The state House passed the so-called Dream Act in the first hours of this legislative session. The Senate on the last day of January, with a sudden change of heart by Higher Education Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, passed the renamed REAL Hope Act on a 35-10 vote (Sen. Linda Evans Parlette voted in favor). Both bills allow undocumented students who meet qualifications apply for the State Need Grant, the state’s largest financial aid program. The Senate bill adds $5 million as a downpayment on the State Need Grant backlog, which is still substantial.